Friday, August 1

My Top Three...

We have forgotten
Lost in the tumult of skyscrapers
Looking ever out
At a sea of empty spaces

We have forgotten
To look past the shell
And see the Heart
Whose stories the scars will tell

We have forgotten
The worth of a man
And all that he can do
If he but chooses to stand

We have forgotten
The decency of Life
When we have sex to sell
No respect for man and wife

We have forgotten
But it’s time to recall
The Rules of this Life
Before we lose all

OK…what the hell am I talking about today? We are living in the “Instantaneous Gratification” generation. Life is full of quick fixes, diet pills, instant messages, and shit that will get you rock solid abs by shocking your butt with 1000 volts. At one time I had my son tell me that waiting 1 minute for the popcorn to pop in the microwave was too long!

Is it any wonder that heart attacks, strokes, and hypertension (stress) are all at an all time high? We spend all our time, trying to make more time. Sounds kind of funny doesn’t it? We aren’t made to withstand this kind of treatment. Just like every other animal on the planet, we are made to live WITH nature and inside a framework that we call Life. One of the big rules is that of patience. Have you ever seen a lion stalk its prey? They don’t rush in and hope that something fall dead at their feet. They don’t pop a gazelle into the microwave and put it on for a few minutes. No…they stalk their prey. At times, they will lay motionless for a while, waiting for the right moment to explode out and drag down dinner.

It seems that we are trying every possible way to make the world go faster, and yet we constantly complain about not having enough time. I want to try a little experiment with you.

First, figure out what the top three MOST IMPORTANT things are to you. Write them down. Most likely, your top three things don’t get the majority of you time and efforts. So, let’s try this for a week, together. Excluding taking a week off from work (if you can and want to DO IT!), arrange your times and days so that for this next week, your top three things get 75% of your time. Take a break from expecting everything to happen yesterday and just enjoy the moments with your top three things. Slow down and remember that Life isn’t a race to be won, but rather a perfect vacation to be extended till the last moment.

Don’t forget to tell those most important to you, that they are.
Don’t forget to say I love you, today.
Don’t forget to cherish every moment with the ones you love.

Like they say…”Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it.”

Here’s to stopping and looking around. Come join me.

Thursday, July 31

There is a disconcerting trend in our world today…like this is news to anyone alive today, right? Which one are you picking for today? I hear you thinking. Well, how about this for today…

The quest for the perfect…fill in the blank.

You can watch TV for an hour and be inundated by the ads for all the perfection that you can buy. The Ab Cruncher for the perfect stomach, all the various pills for the perfect mood or health or sex life. There’s no shortage of quick and easy perfection in our world today. And it is all available for a reasonable price, payment plans are available, and for the next 10 minutes it will be half off!

Doesn’t anyone realize that there is NO quick fix on the path to perfection? Better yet, doesn’t anyone realize that perfect is, for the most part, unattainable in this world?

Eastern philosophy teaches that perfection is a path that reaches its culmination when the sojourner leaves this Earth. Western philosophy teaches that perfection is only attained once we leave the “mortal coil”. So, in this respect it seems that the teachings of the East and West agree. Perfection is something that’s gained when you die. And, to me, that makes sense. Think about our world for a bit and you’ll realize that perfection is pretty unattainable. And yet the snake oil salesmen constantly pander it to us.

So why do the perfection products sell so well? I think that it’s because we are being taught to not be satisfied with our own selves. There are no “normal” models. Every one of those bastards has the “perfect” body. “Perfect” teeth, smiles, eyes, hair, bodies. Don’t you just hate every one of them? Ha. Caught you! THEY are not the problem. In fact, I would suggest that, YOU are the problem.

Why do we buy into the “you’re not perfect just the way you are” garbage? You ARE perfect, just the way you are. Simply because you are YOU. I would submit that the reason that we buy this is because we are self conscious and afraid.

We are afraid that we won’t measure up in the world’s eyes. We are afraid that we will be rejected if we are just ourselves. We are afraid that we are simply not enough.

You know what? I’m going to tell you…you may be right. You might not measure up in the world’s eyes. But SO WHAT? Look at some of the people that DO measure up in the world’s eyes. Can you think of any that are perfect? Nope, me either. And the bigger question is; are they still measuring up in the world’s eyes? I bet you a million dollars that none of them have ever lasted the whole time.

You might be rejected for being yourself. In fact…I tell you that you WILL be rejected. It happens. SO WHAT? Does that make you less of a person, simply because someone doesn’t want to be with you? Absolutely friggin' not! It just means that that person is not going to be a part of your story. And that’s OK.

You might believe that you are not enough. That you don’t have what it takes. This is the saddest part of it all. Why? Because it keeps SO many people from even trying and finding out. OK, now we do need to inject some common sense into this one. Let’s not find out if we’re good at skydiving by just jumping out. K? But when it comes to anything this world can throw at you, remember that you have EVERYTHING it takes to deal with it. Now, you might not deal with it the same way as someone else, but SO WHAT??! If you want to try something, remember that you have EVERYTHING it takes to try. You may find out that you aren’t any good at it, but SO WHAT?? You may find out that you don’t have the skill necessary to do it well, but SO WHAT?? Learn it, build it, use it, and eventually you will become good at it.

Perfection at anything is a journey, full of amazing encounters and wondrous sights. And just remember one thing…Life, is all about the journey.

See you on the road, my fellow travelers.

Wednesday, July 30

Honest Abe...No...Really...

OK…so I’m looking around at our world today and I’m watching the news and I’m reading the paper and magazines and articles on the Internet and I’m wondering…what is the moral standard today for honesty? If you’re in any way cynical like me, you’re thinking that there really isn’t a moral standard in the world today. We see dishonesty in business, media, government, law, and damn near everywhere. Right? So given the prevalence of dishonesty, morality isn’t really a factor anymore.

Not even 50 years ago, business deals were done in a hand shake. A person’s word and commitment were held like a signed contract. You can still find people like that, even today. It’s just that they are people in their 80’s of older. They are the ones that enjoy telling the stories of the “Good Ol’ Days”. Funny thing is…they are absolutely right in that; at least as far as the trustworthiness and honesty of the people around us.

What has happened to us!!?? It’s almost as if people now take pride in being able to pull off a monster lie and not get caught! George Carlin said once that we live in a world of big men and little character. We have CEOs that are stealing from their own companies and worse, from the employees that make the company what it is today. But you also have employees stealing from their companies and selling things on EBay!! How in the world did we get to this point and more importantly, to my mind, how can we possibly accept this behavior, in ANY way?

We tolerate our government lying to us. Hell, we make comedy sketches about it. And why are they all SO funny to us? Because we all know that on some level, it’s true. We EXPECT our government to lie to us. We expect business to lie to us. Hell, we are even suspicious of charities lying to us. Something is definitely wrong here. And the sad fact is; I think it’s something basically wrong with us.

How many people were taught as kids that lying is wrong? However, how many of us EXPERIENCED that fact that lying can save your butt at times too? Have you ever heard an adult say, “If you tell me the truth then things will be easier for you, if you don’t they will be much harder.” or some variation? If something like that has ever happened to you, you unfortunately learned the value of a lie in our world. The problem is; I don’t think there is much emphasis anymore on the damage of lies. I think that’s the case because most of the damage is inside, to yourself, and your heart.

You see, when you lie, you teach yourself to not trust yourself. Even if you think you have a good reason to tell the lie, you continue to build that self distrust. Every time that you don’t keep your word or a commitment that you’ve made, you build that self distrust. You might even find yourself doubting yourself, or allowing yourself to let YOU down. After a time, when we start to see the same behaviors in other people, it’s almost like its normal and we accept it readily. We laugh at it and turn away from it and even pretend it doesn’t exist, or if it does, that it doesn’t affect us.

We allow people to lie to us, and tell them that it’s alright. We allow out government to lie to us, and tell them it’s alright. We allow businesses to lie to us, and we tell them it’s alright.

I don’t think it’s alright.

But in order for me to make any sort of difference, I need to make certain that it’s not alright for me either. Aye…there’s the rub. Right? Mahatma Ghandi says it best, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” That’s right, in order for us to stop the behavior; we have to stop the behavior in ourselves first. What does that mean? That means that you have to stop lying. Period. No little white lies, no exaggerations, no shading the truth, none of that crap. If you’re not telling the truth, you’re lying. It’s that simple. The other thing to do is to make damn sure that if you commit to something or give your word or promise; then you need to do that, no matter what. I know that sometimes that will mean making a sacrifice, but isn’t your word, honor, and integrity worth a bit of sacrifice?

If you stick to those simple things, for a day, then a week, then a month…you will find that suddenly, you trust yourself, just a little. And the behaviors of other people will start to bother you. The funny thing, though, is that YOUR new behaviors will start to bother them. But keep it up. MAKE them treat you differently. Hold them to a higher standard. Then together we can all hold the rest of the world to a higher standard and get a bit of decency back into life as we know it.

So come on, help me change the world. We can do it. Honest.

Tuesday, July 29

Peace, Love, and Happiness - Part 3

OK, on a scale of 1 to 10, honestly rank how happy you are with your life right now. Be honest. I won’t ask for your answer later. Me? Well, I’d say that my life sets at about a 6-7. I’m shooting for 9-10 and I’m working on it every day. So, what is it about your life that makes you happy? Do you have lots of stuff? A nice car? A boat? A house in the hills? If you are like most people, you based your “happiness factor” on the things that you have that you feel you really wanted. After all, we are a Consumer Nation, right? “He who dies with the most toys wins!” Isn’t that the American motto?

Last year alone, we, the people, spent over $8,000,000,000,000.00 on stuff. That’s right; we spent $8 TRILLION on stuff in 2007. Any guess as to how much we, the people, earned? If you guessed lower, you win! We earned a little over $7,800,000,000,000.00. Now, basic math tells us that we are in the hole. But we got a lot of toys!!

So, we’re a happy country, right? Take a look around and tell me what you think. I think that we are a nation of angry, unhealthy, stressed out time bombs, just waiting to go off. But we got a lot of toys!! We’ve created the term “road rage” and use it as an excuse to beat each other to death in a traffic jam. We have more medications, for more illnesses, than ever before. Depression and stress are at an all time high. Violence and divorce are almost a way of life. And most everyone is simply miserable.

Why? We have more than almost every other country in the world! We throw away more food than some entire countries have. We have just about everything in an excess that is almost obscene. Everything, that is but the three most important things. Peace, Love, and Happiness.

So, we talked about Peace and we talked about Love. Let’s give a moment to Happiness.

Happiness is a nice nebulous concept. Everyone defines it differently. It’s like nailing Jell-o to the wall. Webster’s defines happiness as: a state of well-being and contentment. There, doesn’t that just tell you everything you needed to know about Happiness? Now go on…go be Happy. :-)

Well-being and contentment? That sounds like me right after Thanksgiving dinner! That’s not Happiness. Not even close. (Who IS this guy Webster anyways?) Just like knowing Peace and Love, Happiness comes from the inside. Go ahead, try being happy when you’re broken hearted. It’s just not possible. Why? Because Happiness is a state of the Heart. It’s not a condition of the mind or a symptom of the body. It has everything to do with your Heart.

OK…so I hear you all out there saying…”Alright smartass. How do we get to be happy then?” I know, I’ve taken away all your stuff and asked you to be happy. I’ve told you that you can’t think your way into Happiness, any more than you can exercise your way into Happiness. I believe that Happiness is not so much as something you can get, but rather a way of living. It is really the result of gaining Peace and Love in your life. It’s hard to NOT be happy when your life is full of Peace, no matter what happens and you live in Love with yourself and others.

So, how can you start on the road to Happiness? It’s easy. Work on Peace and Love. And put a smile on your face. Give it a try and see how different you feel when you wear a smile all day long. People will smile back and those that spend time around you will be uplifted and respond in kind. It won’t bring you true Happiness, but it will help get you going in the right direction.

I want to share the greatest treasures in my life with you all. Peace, Love and Happiness. I’ll close with words from someone wiser than I, the Dalai Lama, who said:

“The basic thing is that everyone wants happiness, no one wants suffering. And happiness mainly comes from our own attitude, rather than from external factors. If your own mental attitude is correct, even if you remain in a hostile atmosphere, you feel happy.”

Yeah…he gets it too.

Monday, July 28

Peace, Love, and Happiness - Part 2

Peace, Love, and Happiness. OK, so you’ve done the work to get a little peace in your life. Let’s look at Love. That’s something we all want. We want to find someone that will love us and love us and love us. Right? What if I told you, WRONG! You see, the old song was right. “Looking for Love in all the wrong places.” Or, if you are an Eddie Murphy fan, “Wokin pah nup in ah dah wong paces.”

What do I mean exactly? Simple. We are taught that it is another’s responsibility to love us and thereby find happiness. Wrong! Sorry, try again next time. I hate to see this message propagated throughout every medium in the world. TV, movies, music, books, commercials, Internet, hell, even daily conversations amongst people. Everyone seems to have bought into this fallacy. We have an entire, multi-billion dollar, industry that has been built around this concept. We have speed dating, 5 minute dates, online dating, dating classes, relationship magazines and gurus. All done in the name of finding true love and the love of your life. Guess what? It’s all CRAP!

Look at some of the other facts of the world today. Depending on your source the divorce rate in America is 41-50% for the first marriage, 60-67% for the second, and 73-74% for the third. Boy talk about not being able to learn from mistakes.  OK, so what’s going on here?! People are supposed to be getting married because they LOVE each other, right? What does that mean for love? Is it all just a big scam? Shall we blame all the jeweler commercials? Romance novels? Movies? Nah. That would be wrong and, even, a little too easy. Life is NEVER that easy.

So, what’s happened to love? Well, follow me if you would and see if this just might make a little bit of sense to you. You can’t give something that you don’t have. I know, it’s still a little simple, but it’s VERY big in what it contains. I believe that the problem with love in our world right now, is that we, as a people, have lost our capacity to love ourselves. I’m not talking about the egotistical and narcissistic kind of love that is just downright weird. I’m talking about a healthy and whole love and respect for your own self.

I read once somewhere, that 56% of American families are considered dysfunctional. Is it any wonder that we have lost our ability to honestly love ourselves? We exist in a world that is steeped in a selfish materialism that leaves very little room for much else. We are inundated with the ideas that to be loved we must:

Look like a supermodel or a professional athlete.
Be rich and/or famous.
Be a musician or rockstar.
Have some attribute that makes us more than the everyday man or woman, or find the money to buy one.

Look around if you don’t believe me. How often is the hero of a love story a plain average Joe or Jill? Or the hero in an action flick balding or a little pudgy ‘round the middle? It just doesn’t happen. Sure, we may be able to logically think about it and know that life’s not like that. But our minds take in everything and it all gets sorted and ordered automatically. And it all goes to support something that we believe, whether we’re logical about it or not.

You can’t give something you don’t have. What does this really mean? Before you can ever, and I do mean EVER, love someone else, you have to love yourself first. I know, I know. I hear many of you already saying, I do! And I still can’t find anyone to love me. Guess what? I’m going to say that you’ve got a bit more work to get to the point of loving yourself. We all do. It’s nothing to worry about or be ashamed of. I don’t know of one single person that hasn’t done something that they hated themselves for. It seems that everyone gets tired of themselves every now and then. Time alone for some people is the worst possible punishment.

Have you ever dated yourself? OK…that just sounds silly. Everyone, when they “fall” in love wants to spend every moment with their lover. They want to talk with them, take them out, share everything with them. Can you do that with yourself? I will admit, it is a hard thing to do. But until you can come to the point of loving to be with YOU, how in the world can you expect anyone else to?

It’s work well worth doing. After all, you are the only one that has to live with you for your entire life. Like yourself, forgive yourself, support yourself, encourage yourself, and learn to love yourself.

I will learn to love you too.